The Balance between Robust Constitutionalism and the Democratic Process

A public lecture by Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke of the Republic of South Africa

Hosted by the Rule of Law Institute of Australia, UNSW Law, and the Gilbert + Tobin Centre for Public Law.

Wednesday 15 June 2016, 6.00pm
Level 21, Law Courts Building
184 Phillip Street, Sydney

Register online at:

The flyer for the event is available here.

As an anti-apartheid activist, the principle of ‘one person one vote’ was central to Dikgang Moseneke’s democratic demands. Now in his role as Deputy Chief Justice of the Republic of South Africa, Moseneke seeks to find equilibrium between the democratic will of the people and the supremacy of the Constitution. While critics of the Constitution question its legitimacy, Moseneke holds that constitutional supremacy protects against abuses of public power and creates a government that is more consistent, just and responsive. Reflecting on recent events in South Africa and internationally, Deputy Chief Justice Moseneke examines the balance between the democratic process and robust constitutionalism.

About the Speaker

moseneke_ptBorn in Pretoria in 1947, the Honourable Dikgang Moseneke was jailed at the age of 15 for participating in anti-apartheid activities. In the ten years that he was detained on Robben Island, Moseneke befriended other activists—including Nelson Mandela—also imprisoned for their fight against the apartheid regime. While in prison he studied for degrees in Arts and B Iuris from the University of South Africa, both of which were conferred while he was a prisoner. Moseneke later received an LLB from the same university.

Admitted as a solicitor in 1978, Moseneke’s application to the Pretoria Bar in 1983 initiated the abolition of ‘white only’ Bar membership. He was appointed to Senior Counsel in 1993, and in the same year served on the committee that drafted South Africa’s interim Constitution. When the first democratic elections were held in 1994, Moseneke was appointed Deputy Chairman of the Independent Electoral Commission. Following a period in the corporate sector, Moseneke was appointed a judge of the Constitutional Court in 2002, becoming Deputy Chief Justice of the Republic of South Africa in 2005.